Population growth is highest in nine years
But more Irish emigrating than returning, figures reveal
Ireland has seen the largest population growth since 2008, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
It shows the country's population grew by 52,900, to 4,792,500, by April 2017.
However, the statistics also revealed more Irish people are emigrating than returning.
James Hegarty, a statistician with the CSO, said the population growth was the result of natural increase and positive net migration.
"Of the 84,600 people who immigrated to Ireland in the year to April 2017, some 27,400 (32.4pc) of these were estimated to be Irish nationals," he said.
"Of the 64,800 people who emigrated from Ireland in the year to April 2017, 30,800 (47.5pc) were estimated to be Irish nationals.
"Consequently, net outward migration of Irish nationals in 2017 was 3,400."
The number of immigrants to the State from January to April 2017 was estimated at 84,600, while the number of emigrants from Ireland over the same period was around 64,800 - resulting in a net inward migration of 19,800.
The number of births in the period was 63,900 while the number of deaths was 30,800, resulting in a natural increase of the population of 33,100.
Around 18,700 immigrants arrived to live in Ireland from the UK in this period, while 12,100 emigrants left Ireland to live in the UK.
In April 2017, 1.35 million people (28.2pc) lived in Dublin.
According to KBC Bank economist Austin Hughes, Irish population trends are very different to those of our economic partners.
"Ireland's 1.1pc population growth rate at present is nearly four times the current EU average of 0.3pc.
"Eurostat figures also show 10 countries of the EU 28 reporting population declines in 2016. So, the Irish experience is quite exceptional.
"The key drivers of Ireland's demographic dynamics are a comparatively large number of births relative to deaths as well as a much greater variability in migration than in most other countries, due to the particular sensitivity of Irish migration flows to domestic economic conditions," he said.
Mr Hughes added he would not be surprised to see these numbers revised higher in the future and a sharper increase in inward migration emerging in coming years.
"While migration trends owe much to changes in Irish economic conditions, today's data highlight the importance and complex nature of two-way flows.
"While migration flows tend to be the most volatile element of Irish population changes, arguably the most notable aspect of Ireland's demographic profile is that it has the highest birth rate and the lowest death rate in the EU 28.
"This also translates into the lowest average age in the EU.
"These developments enhance Ireland's potential growth rate through the prospect of a comparatively strong rate of labour force growth in the future.
"This potential is further augmented by a stronger proportion of second-level educational qualifications among immigrants (64pc) than among emigrants (44pc)."